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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Never Let Me Go

Remarkably Powerful


It doesn't matter how horrible your life is - if you’ve been raised in it since birth, it will become so normal to you. To question it will become the biggest obstacle of your life. Such is the obstacle in Never Let Me Go, a remarkably powerful dystopian drama brought to life by the everlasting talents of the actors behind the camera.


Tommy (Andrew Garfield), Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Kathy (Carey Mulligan) are three very close friends who all grew up together at a boarding school called Hailsham. Never Let Me Go opens with the revelation that a medical breakthrough has permitted the human lifespan to be extended beyond 100 years. The three friends have been taught throughout their lives that they have a very special purpose to be organ donors in their early adulthood after which their life will be over.


Initially, it would never occur to them to run away because their teachings are so ingrained in them. Getting to see the outside world for the first time brings about doubts none of them want to feel but can't shake off, sending everything into a big psychological mess.


Garfield, Knightley and Mulligan’s performances are humble, raw and honest. Tommy is not as internally observant as Kathy but he is as sensitive as her and not good with confrontation. Ruth, on the other hand, has a whole sense of self that revolves around her certainty. If she's verbally distressed, she'll vocalize it while Kathy will approach hard territory more gently. Tommy’s approach is more like Kathy’s but she trusts herself to address certain things while Tommy needs certain validation to do so. Whenever he seems confident, there's always someone around. He needs someone to be by him in case he messes up in some way and Kathy, known for her kind nature, is always the ideal choice. Ruth means well but she's very brash and impulsive and things soon start to fall apart between her and Kathy. Ruth’s fears allow her to hurt Kathy so that she, in turn, will not feel as small.


There comes a point where Never Let Me Go stops being about what it is that's eating the characters alive and starts being about the fact that they're feeling eaten alive at all. Learning about the harshness of the world is never easy and Never Let Me Go is an emotionally frightening portrait of melancholia and what happens when the worst has been our normal. Witnessing great acting is like having a sweet tooth. Once you have sugar, you can't satisfy it. You have to keep having more and Never Let Me Go is a perfect film to observe the awe of high-class acting.


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